DIY diva
DIY diva

The Top 3 Reasons Why I Hate Top 5 Tips Articles

DIY diva

Particularly this time of year you can’t click twice anywhere on the internet without seeing articles like “The Top 5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Workout” or ” 10 Ways to Get Organized” all over the place. And despite the fact that I know those articles are going to be filled with variations of such sage advice as “get your butt off the couch” and “pick your stuff up and put it away” I still click on them thinking one might contain the magic wand that folds all of my socks for me an puts them neatly away for me.

No such luck.

I know this says something about us culturally — about our issues with sock folding (could be that’s just me) and our need for “quick hit” information that basically tells us things we already know and are going to ignore anyway (unless it gives us permission to eat three pounds of bacon a day and still miraculously lose weight). And to be honest I can’t blame the people who write them– god knows I couldn’t live without google, but in these times of SEO and Pay-Per-Impression advertising, people will do almost anything to get you to click.

#1 – I already know this, and now I can’t get those two minutes back.

I mean, there’s irony to the fact that I spent time reading Five Ways To Find More Time In Your Life instead of using those precious minutes to do some of the things I’d like to find more time for, right?

#2 – It gives me the unrealistic impression that it should be just that easy.

Frankly, even though I consider myself an intelligent (if not always wholly-rational) individual, there’s a brief shining moment when I click on the 8 Ways To Get Beach-Ready Abs and I picture myself in two weeks with Jillian Michaels body. I don’t picture myself doing 346 sit-ups every day, mind you, or changing my entire diet, or figuring out how to fit two hours of cardio into a schedule that already allows me minimal sleeping time.

What a lot of these “Top 5 Tips” articles are really talking about is change, and unless we’re talking about buzzing your hair off (been there, done that) change is neither quick nor easy.

Side note: Great book for better understanding change and how we do it… Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard.

#3- Probably they googled this, just like I did.   

The truth is that most posts or articles with quick tips aren’t written by professionals. They’re probably written by people like me who freelance for publishers after their day jobs and need just as much motivation as the rest of us to get off the couch. Even if it is a fitness, cooking, organizational, or, okay, DIY expert writing, the top five tips that they give to everyone certainly aren’t tailored to me.

Because let’s face it, I’m special.  (Yep. I’m just totally going to leave that one open so you can make wisecracks at my expense. Proceed. )

I might be more swayed by an article that was “The Top 5 Ways I Kept My House Clean For a Month That May or May Not Work For You.” At least I know the person writing the article actually tried these tips and found a way to make them work, and maybe I can learn something from their story.

Now I might be the exception and not the rule here, but this is what I want… I want to know how my friend who used to hate running as much as I do just completed her first marathon. I want to know how that blogger who I know has a full time job just like I do manages to update her site every day. I want to know how people who aren’t going around banging their heads against the wall because of all the email they have to manage keep themselves sane. In short, I want their stories.

I don’t want it diluted or watered down into five quick tips. I want the details, the nitty-gritty, the reasons for why something was done this way instead of the other way, and what worked and what didn’t. I want to know that it wasn’t easy. That maybe it took a couple of tries to get it right, but that in the end real people have made real changes in their lives.

It might be too much to ask for, but I’m putting it out there. I know I can’t change the collective attitude about the “quick fix” but one thing I can do for damn sure is keep telling stories. If you’ve got one to share (or one you’d like to hear) let me know.

Around here, it’s always story time.

DIY diva


  • GG

    with this and the 826 post you have inspired me to start writing again, this time for real and with purpose!! I have so many of those stories, I need to start documenting them… I am definitely keeping up with yours!!

    • kitliz

      I think we’re all stronger for the “real” stories we hear (you know, not the hollywood version of things). I’d love to read yours!

  • Karen S

    So I ALWAYS want to believe that the change or fix will be easy, but man it is tough. And it takes commitment. I like ready the inspirational stories and each time I do, I hope that I’ll finally have enough inspiration to get off my butt and change!

    • kitliz

      I’m so with you! I convince myself almost every time that it will be easy… Like, “I’ll make this change and then it will be done” instead of thinking about it like a journey. I’m just now starting to change my mindset about it!

  • Guerrina

    I’m with Karen S. – I keep hoping I’ll be inspired enough to get a move on in whatever area I’m currently thinking I need to! Doesn’t work…sigh. Once I start, I’m good. It’s the getting started!

    • kitliz

      It’s so true. Sometimes I even have a hard time getting started on DIY projects that I’m excited to do, and it’s a different thing that helps get me over the hump each time. Some of it might just be embracing that you’re not quite ready to start the journey yet… which is a much better mindset than “can’t”!

      • Janet

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  • Kristen @ Pink Toes and Power Tools

    When contemplating big change of any form, I too want to be given the details. I tend to research things to death, contemplate, ponder, and then do nothing because it isn’t all laid out for me. The path isn’t clear because even with all I’ve learned, it becomes murky when I drop myself in the center of it.

    What I’ve just begun to learn as I begin my 4th decade is that I don’t need to have the step-by-step directions all there in front of me. What I need to do is BEGIN. And then trust that what I need to do next will present itself when I need it.

    The old “Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” yada yada…never did anything for me. But I recently read a book on goals (told you I researched everything) and the author made an analogy of a car trip. You can drive across the entire country in the dark and only be able to see 30 feet in front of you the entire time with your headlights. Each movement forward reveals a little more of where you need to go. That stuck with me.

    So now I am setting my big goals so I know where I want to end up and then concentrating on the 30 feet in front of me by doing something, no matter how small, each day. I have to constantly remind myself that I don’t need to know anything more than what I know now to actually BEGIN.

    Simple, yes. But for someone like me who wants to know EVERYTHING first, doing it is hard!! And I find that sometimes I have the mindset that I need to do something significant each day and if it isn’t a leap forward it isn’t worth doing. A tiny hop is forward momentum and sometimes it’s all I have for that day.

    Anyway, there’s another 2 minutes (ok, 5–I rambled) that you can’t get back! Sorry!

  • Kelsey

    Hear hear!

    I only ever write these types of articles if there is something truly unusual about the way I do something. Something that I have never seen or heard anywhere else. Otherwise, if I feel the need to give advice, I tend to title it as something like “How *I* remain sane on 5 hours of sleep a night”, rather than stating it as something that seems as if it will work for everyone. Do I get less hits that way? Yes. However, I feel just a little less slimy about it as a result.